“Joining a prestigious list of Danish imports that includes the band Aqua, filled pastries, little plastic bricks and Peter Lovenkrands’ left boot; Kristian Pedersen has found a welcoming home in this city and a warm place in my heart.”

As you may have gathered from my relatively recent viral video, I was a huge fan of Jonathan Grounds. (OK, maybe it wasn’t “Baby Shark” viral, but it had around 50k views…. yes, 10 thousand of those were just me watching myself on repeat, but still!) To be honest I was a little dubious when Pedersen first took to the pitch and then downright outraged when Groundinho left our fair city and headed for the dirty North.

I was a little critical of our Danish import at first. I felt he was a little off the pace and a prime target for the opposition to attack through. Over the last couple of months though I’ve learnt to adopt him as a tall, blonde, brother from another mother and although the wounds left by Grounds’ departure may never truly heal, KP’s recent performances have proved a handy distraction.

Joining a prestigious list of Danish imports that includes the band Aqua, filled pastries, little plastic bricks and Peter Lovenkrands’ left boot; Kristian Pedersen has found a welcoming home in this city and a warm place in my heart. (Even if I do wish he’d stick to his position a little more)

KP has proved himself to be the final piece in our defensive puzzle and along with Max, Harlee and Morro, forms one of the strongest units in the league. Goals may win games but defences win championships.

Now obviously I’m not touting us as division winners this season, but is it completely out of the realms of possibility that we may challenge for the playoffs? Sure we’re starting on the back foot – well at this point we’re still on our arses – but the Championship is an unforgiving beast that punishes teams as readily as it rewards them. The table can change dramatically in just a couple of weeks and although we may only be 5 points clear of the relegation zone, we’re also just 5 points away from the top 6.

Our defensive line has been on the cusp of something special for a little while now. I was never a fan of Nsue and couldn’t stand Keita (or “chicken legs” as the wife referred to him as) but once they were given the boot in favour of Max Wingback and the lesser spotted Wesley Harding, things really took a turn for the better.

As was evident during our recent trip ‘daaaan saaaaf’, Brentford have never, and will never, get over the loss of Harlee, Max and Jota and the recent bit of managerial musical chairs conducted over in Witton has ensured that Bees fans will forever hold a grudge against the West Midlands. As our recent signings’ time in the second city goes on though, Brentford’s anger is becoming more and more understandable.

In my opinion, Max Colin is the best player we’ve seen at the Blues for a very, very long time. His name should be at the top of every team sheet and the partnership he forms with Jota is simply phenomenal. They seem to know each other inside out and have a chemistry that just cannot be taught.

As for Harlee, he’s probably been a contender for man of the match this season more often than not. Harlee’s a brick wall at the back and an absolute general on the pitch. Alongside Morrison, the two towering centre-backs have developed the level of understanding and trust in each other that managers dream about.

Are the boys at the back going to keep clean sheets week in, week out? Of course not. But we’ve already played some of the toughest teams in the league – including the free-scoring Baggies – and managed to keep them all relatively quiet. Now that Jukey has found his shooting boots and we’ve strengthened the middle of the park with the addition of Craig’s little brother, all signs are starting to point towards the Blues having their most successful season for a fair few years.

Our main worry at the moment is the prospect of picking up injuries. For all of Steve Cotterill’s faults, it was player availability that really hurt us last season. We currently have Isaac, David Davis and Gary Gardner’s big brother (see, that nickname works both ways) all sitting on the sidelines but it’s not really hindering us too much. However, if we incur just a couple more injuries then we’ll be dipping into our (admittedly very talented) youth team for replacements.

We’re still completely in the dark regarding the FFP issue and as the days continue to tick by, I wonder whether the EFL even understand the rules and regulations themselves. It was reported towards the end of the last transfer window that Garry Monk was allowed to bring in 5 new players under strict financial stipulations. As it stands we’ve welcomed 4 new arrivals following this announcement so there’s the potential for business to be done in January. Whether we’ll still be restricted to just one new signing once the window reopens remains to be seen, but backups really need to be considered.

The current team is cohesive, dangerous and has the perfect blend of chemistry and determination to mount a successful campaign. One can’t help feeling that we’re permanently on a knifes edge though and one or two hamstring pulls could really bring our momentum to a screeching halt.

However, those negatives are ifs, buts and maybes! As it stands the team are on a high, the mood seems fantastic and fans are wholeheartedly buying into this squad and Monk’s ethos. Even when the big man gets sent to the stands, us fans remain just as confident that Jimmy and the Real Pep will get the job done. Blues have a firm footing in the table and with our solid defensive foundation, the only way is up.

Unfortunately, domestic football is back on pause over the next couple of weeks as Southgate’s England seeks revenge against the Croats. I’m sure the boys will enjoy their well-deserved rest though as they prepare for a tough (on paper at least) away day at Stoke – a game that sees Blues fans reunited with their old pal Gary Rowett at the appallingly named Bet365 Stadium…

By Mark Watson

@MarkWatson1875

3 COMMENTS

  1. First Harry Redknapp and now you. Playoffs? I can’t see it myself. Our squad is threadbare and simply not good or consistent enough to mount a challenge to the top 6. With a points deduction looming we’ll have done well if we finish 14th or above. Agree with your points on the defence. It is probably the best we have had since the McLeish days. I do worry about the keeper though. Up front Juke is playing the best I’ve seen him. Che needs to step up his game and Bogle hasn’t impressed. I can’t wait for Vassell to come back into the frame. I would like to see Kyle McFarlane given a chance though. I’m really enjoying going down to St Andrews again. The football and atmosphere is great. Despite the off field problems we have a team that will give any team a game. After a few very tough seasons the green shoots of recovery are definitely there but I think you’re a bit early with your prediction. Hopefully FFP doesn’t force our hand into selling players we want to build around.

  2. Blues can be in the playoffs ….as for England if goals win matches how is it we are playing 4 midfield players that have only scored around 7 goals between them in around 150 matches ….

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